Photos of The Great Sphinx at Giza always show the same vista: The majestic sculpture, staring out on the desert, often with a pyramid or two behind it. They conjure up images of the sandy Sahara, where you can travel for miles before happening upon these enigmatic monuments from the distant past.
Google Maps shows a more complete picture of the environs: The Sphinx looks out on crowded Cairo, about 300 yards away. And to completely contradict the isolated desert image, the Oberoi Mena House Hotel is a luxury resort whose golf course is about 200 yards from the Pyramids (scroll north on the map).
Seeing the Sphinx in its real setting made me wonder about other iconic landmarks. Most seem to be situated as we have come to expect, for example:
- Stonehenge really is in a rural English setting,
- The Leaning Tower of Pisa is in a crowded European town, (look how different the ethereal white of the church is from the uniformly tiled roofs all around it),
- The Taj Mahal is in a wide green area in Agra, though the city crowds into it on the south.